CSExtra – Wednesday, May 29, 2013
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Wednesday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe. U. S., Russian and European astronauts reach the International Space Station late Tuesday, less than six hours after lifting from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Brown dwarf stars may host Mars-sized planets in their habitable zones, scientists suggest. Powerful pulsars could serve as a cosmic GPS system. NASA’s Space Act Agreements are a vital part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, say supporters. The U.S. Air Force’s reusable X-37B spacecraft forges ahead on a long running classified mission. Friday will mark the flyby of QE2, a large asteroid. Essays examine a surging private sector interest in the human exploration of Mars and why a mission to the red planet could serve some of the Earth’s most pressing needs.
1. From Reuters News Service: Three new crew members arrive at the International Space Station aboard a Russian spacecraft late Tuesday. NASA’s Karen Nyberg, Russia’s Fyodor Yurchikhin and Italy’s Luca Parmitano restore the orbiting laboratory’s crew to six astronauts.
A. From CBS News and the Associated Press: Latest International Space Station crew members to spend six months aboard the orbiting science laboratory.
B. From USAToday: NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg, 43, balances her profession with motherhood. Married to fellow astronaut Doug Hurley, Nyberg will strive to stay in touch with Jack, their three-year-old son, during her tour of duty aboard the space station.
2. From Space.com: Researchers propose tasking NASA’s Spitzer space telescope with searching for Mars-sized planets around brown dwarf stars. At the right distance from these failed stars, small planets might possess environments favorable for biological activity.
3. From Discovery.com: Powerful pulsars might provide an off the Earth navigation service similar to the Global Positioning Satellite System, say scientists.
4. From Space News: Supporters of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, a public/private initiative to replace the astronaut transportation capabilities of NASA’s retired space shuttle program, urge policy makers to retain flexible Space Act Agreements as part of the development equation.
5. From Space.com: The U. S. Air Force ‘s latest classified X37B mission has passed the five month mark. The reusable winged spacecraft flew 225 days for the first time in 2010. A second unpiloted X37B flew in 2011, also on a classified mission that spanned 469 days. The Air Force is saying little of the current flight’s objectives.
6. From The Pasadena Star-News, of California: 1998 QE2, an asteroid more than 1.5 miles long will sail safely past the Earth on Friday. The miss distance is a comfortable 3.6 million miles. Still, QE2′s size serves as reminder of the threat large space rocks pose.
7. Two essays from The Space Review examine the mounting interest in reaching Mars with humans and the benefits such a feat could mean for Earthlings.
A. In “Consider Mars,” Frank Stratford outlines benefits that await all Earthlings with a push for the human exploration of Mars. “All technologies developed, all the knowledge we gain, all of it will benefit us on Earth directly,” writes Stratford, the Australian founder of MarsDrive. All of the expense will improve life on Earth, just as previous exploration endeavors developed current communications and weather satellite technologies, says Stratford.
B. In “The private road to Mars,” TSR editor Jeff Foust finds a private sector commitment to reach Mars with humans gaining public interest. At least two of the initiatives, Inspiration Mars and Mars One, are finding resonance in some quarters of government as well as with others from the commercial realm. If nothing else, they are exposing the challenge of deep space exploration to new audiences, writes Foust.
8. From Forbes.com: If NASA’s ambitions are endangered by inadequate budgets, perhaps the global private sector can push humans deeper into space, writes Matthew Stibbe, businessman, pilot and author.
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